Why Is My Car Radio Display Not Working? 5 Ways to Fix It


It’s fantastic to have the top model of a car radio with a digital display in your car. You can see all the information you need regarding the music you are listening to, the navigation route you have to follow, and more.

The problem comes in when these fantastic pieces of technology just stop working. Read on to find out why and how to fix this.

As a general rule, your car radio display will not work if it encounters various issues like a blown fuse, the dimmer turned down, or a faulty illumination wire. The connectors between the LCD and radio unit could be wet or defective, or the backlight, LCD, or radio unit itself could be faulty.

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Tip: The most common reason for car radios not working can be blown fuse or faulty illumination wires. If this is the reason in your case, you may need to start the repair by replacing the fuse in your stereo. Check out my favorite car audio fuses on Amazon.com now.

Let’s look at why your car radio display won’t work and all the various reasons that could impact it. These reasons are not always as dreadful as you may think, and most of them can be cured with little effort.

Car Radio Display Overview

Today, car radios have come leaps and bounds from the heavy, mechanical, and manual radios of the 1950s that only offered an AM//FM stereo with frequency and volume knobs.

Nowadays, most head units almost seem like you can launch a rocket into outer space with the great infotainment systems having digital displays, voice control, wireless capability, navigation, finding areas of interest, streaming from the net, and more.

However, there is a caveat when it comes to this fantastic technology. Because everything is based on computers and circuitry, there is a lot more room for errors and malfunctions to occur.

car stereo display does not work

You could roll vintage car radio down a hill, and it would still be perfectly fine. However, if you have a cold and sneeze in the direction of your $500 Double Din aftermarket infotainment system, and it is not set up correctly, it won’t function.

Why Is My Car Radio Display Not Working?

If you find yourself in a predicament of your car radios’ display not working, you might feel a little inept at dealing with the situation; however, only a handful of variables can be wrong with it.

Let’s first take a look at the most common problem that car stereos face when they do not turn on, and then we will go through an adequate solution.

What Is the Most Common Reason That a Car Radio Display Doesn’t Turn On?

The most common fault that most car radios experience is that of a faulty fuse. Remember that a fuse is designed to be the weakest link in a circuit.

This means that if something goes wrong (like a short to ground), the fuse will take the brunt of the damage and burn out hopefully before any severe damage can be incurred by your car or any equipment that the circuit was connected to.

If you have not assumed it already, this will be one fix that you can apply to your car stereo and could cause the display not to turn on, and I will explain in detail below.

Other Reasons Why the Display of My Car Radio Is Not Working

When a fuse is blown, not only display does not work, but the whole radio does not function. If however, your radio works but the screen remains blank, you will need to consider a few other factors when determining why your car radio display is not working correctly.

Your display could be suffering from one or many of these factors, and they include:

  • The dimmer on your radio is not adjusted or faulty
  • There is a problem with your car radio connectors
  • The main head unit (stereo) is defective
  • The backlight of the unit is defective
  • The LCD (the entire display) is defective

Keep in mind that a blown fuse is also part of this checklist that you will need to go over when determining the car radio display’s fault.

5 Ways to Fix Your Car Radio When the Display Is Not Working

When your car stereo is new, and you have a warranty, the easiest solution is to take the stereo to the retailer, and they will fix it. The more complicated situations are when your radio is older with the warranty expired.

Keep in mind that all cars are different, all car systems are different, including a car audio system. I have outlined the basic principles and the most common cause that are usually at fault with these problems’ solutions.

Check the Dimmer Setting or Check the Illumination Wire.

Most modern car stereos with a digital display have a dimmer function, and this will be connected to the radio via the illumination wire.

If you are interested in car stereo wiring, check out my other article on Why My Car Radio won’t Turn Off.

Sometimes, the car radio display is too bright, and when the radio does not have a day/night display function, most drivers including me, prefer to turn down the brightness (especially at night).

The solution for this is two-fold. If the dimmer is turned down, then you will just have to adjust the setting and turn up the brightness. Usually, the dimmer works in tandem with the volume know, and this is how you will change it.

However, there will first be a setting that you have to choose in order to select the dimmer function mode.

If this doesn’t work, then there may be a problem with the illumination wire (it may be damaged or lose), and if you remove the radio and check the wiring, you will be looking for an orange or orange/black wire.

Going through how to rewire a car radio is beyond this article’s scope but check out my other article on How To Wire Car Speakers To The Radio Without The Harness, where I go over a car radio and its wiring.

Check the Car Radio Connectors

Your car radio is not one solid unit. This means that the display is separate from the actual radio unit, and wires and connectors are used to link them together.

There are two ways in which a display will be connected to the radio unit:

  • Soldered connection points
  • Mechanical connection points

Depending on which connection type you have for your display unit, a few elements could cause the problem.

Removing the display from the car stereo could be a bit of an issue if you do not consider yourself a DIY individual. It is however not too complicated and well explained in the short video below.

In some instances, and depending on your car radio model and display like some of the models from Sony, removing the LCD display is very easy.

If there are mechanical connectors (something similar to a harness), they are broken or damaged in any way, and you think this could be the cause of the problem, it may be possible to purchase those connectors from a repair shop. Otherwise, you will have to take it in and let them source the parts for you.

If your display has soldering joints, you can see that a soldering point or wire has come loose and you, again, are comfortable with a little DIY, then all you need to do is solder it back together correctly.

Take note that you use different types of solder for various connection points and circuit boards, though.

Check All User Mode Settings and Reset the Radio

If your display is completely turned off, then you may not be able to attempt this fix.

However, if the display is dimmed down and you still have power, then the first thing you should do is check your user manual and go through all the settings and presets that your radio offers to try to find a setting that could be used to adjust your radio back to normal brightness.

Check for a Faulty Head Unit, Backlight, or LCD

Suppose you have already gone through all the steps and procedures that I have laid out for you, such as checking the dimmer, checking the illumination wire, checking settings and presets, trying to reset the radio, and checking the fuses. In that case, there may be an issue with one of three things with your car radio.

  • It could be that your main unit is faulty
  • The backlight of the display is defective
  • The LCD itself is flawed

In a situation like this, the only option you have is to take it in for repair (if it can be repaired). Otherwise, if you have a service plan or an aftermarket radio with a warranty, you should be able to replace it without any hassles

I went through this scenario many years ago and based on this experience, I wrote an article about refurbished car radios.

Check the Fuse of the Car Radio

One reason your car radio display may not be working is because of a faulty fuse. I already touched on this briefly because it is the most common car stereo (radios) problem.

Checking a fuse is also an effortless way to repair your car radio because a fuse is meant to be replaceable.

Furthermore, the fuses used for your radio and other electronics within your car are relatively cheap to replace. Seriously, you can get an entire box of fuses (that’s over 250 fuses) from Amazon.

With this kit, you will never have to worry about another fuse blowing in your car, probably for the rest of your life, unless you have a problem that persists and keeps blowing your fuses.

Where Do I Find the Fuse for My Car Radio?

Although easy to replace, you may have a problem finding the fuse in the first place.

In older cars, the fuse would be placed on the radio, so you would have to take out the entire stereo to get to the back of it just to replace the fuse.

Sometimes this meant having to take off part or most of the dashboard. If this is the case for your car and stereo model, then this might be a hassle, and you may have to take it into an automotive repair shop.

However, if you do not have trouble getting your hands dirty and are used to a little DIY, you should be fine. The only thing you will need is a few hours of free time.

Luckily with most modern cars, the car radio fuses are located in the fuse box with all the other fuses that are grouped together. Typically you can find this box on the dashboard close to the steering wheel or under the hood.

replacing blown fuse in car
Box with fuses in 2016 VW Passat

How Do I Know Which Fuse I Need to Replace?

The fuse box will have a lid, and branded on the underside of it will be either a picture or some form of engraved stencil, and on that picture, you will see the list of fuses associated with specific names (these are its codes).

These names indicated which fuses are for which car parts and systems. You would need to look for the fuse (code) name that says either Room, Accessories, Interior Lights, or Radio and check if that fuse is blown and then replace it with a new one your car radio should work and display correctly.

You may be wondering why some of those code names don’t refer to the radio. Sometimes manufacturers have combined circuits in your vehicle, and the fuse used for your radio will also be used for your interior lights. In general, you should replace any fuse you will find that is blown.

How to Replace the Car Radio Fuse?

If the short to ground has affected the circuit of the radio and cause a surge of current, then the fuse may be blown, and all you will have to do is follow the steps we laid out for you in the section above.

However, take note that you need to make sure any liquid that was spilled or mistakenly got into the wiring is cleaned up and the wiring plus the connection points and connectors are dry.

What to Do When My Car Stereo Has Power but Not Display?

In the instance where your radio is still working, but there is no display, then one scenario could be that a setting or the dimmer was turned down all the way. In this case, you can try resetting your car radio to the factory settings.

This is slightly different from adjusting the dimmer and checking functions and settings on your car radio. Most radios, if not all due to their complicated nature, will have a reset button.

A reset button is usually found behind the removed faceplate of the radio. You will typically need something long and thin to get to the reset button, like a needle or a pen. Just remember that if you reset the radio, you will lose all saved data.

Why Is Car Touch Screen Not Working After Cleaning?

Water or moisture is the main problem that many people face after cleaning the radio screen.

The screen stops working when the liquid gets behind the LCD and short circuits the connection between the display and the radio unit.

If you cleaned your screen with the water and it still works, you are in luck. And the only thing you would need to do is make sure the connection point and wires that sit between your display and the radio unit are dry.

The better way to clean the car radio screen and especially a touch screen is to use a soft microfiber cloth and clean off any dirt, dust, or fingerprints on the screen.

Using even a paper towel will cause scratches on the touchscreen, so do not do that.

Why Is My Car Radio Touch Screen Not Responding?

The touchscreen is only fun when it’s fully responsive. Otherwise, your car radio does not function.

It often happens that touchscreens in car radios lose responsiveness, and there are two main reasons why this happens:

  • Dirt or dust on the screen blocks its direct contact with your fingers, causing the touchscreen to be unresponsive. To avoid this, clean the screen regularly with a microfiber cloth and do not touch the screen with dirty hands.
  • Another reason for the screen not to respond is when it loses its calibration. For example, you have to re-calibrate your touch screen if you notice it does not respond to your fingers or register the touch when your finger is in an “offset” to the icon you need to touch.

Why Is My Car Radio Display Fading?

When the LCD car screen is fading, there is a problem with either connection of the flat wire or with the liquid screen itself.

It is a common problem, especially in the one-din head units, but the fix is easy but not always possible at home.

Car radio screens start to fade over time because the internal connections become loose, or when the screen is mechanically damaged, for example, when it is pressed using too much finger pressure.

Repair of the fading damaged screen is not often possible. To find the reason, you have to remove the screen, clean all flat wire connections, and solder it back to its original position.

If that does not help, it means you have to replace a screen with the new one.

Screen replacement in car radios is not the easiest task. If you are not a DYI or do not have much experience with electronic repairs, it is better to give the radio to the professional.

Is it worth repairing the display? It depends on the radio type, and if this is an expensive model, then definitely yes. On the other hand, if your radio is not too costly or not the new one, it is better and cheaper to replace it with the new one.

Why Is the Android Radio Touch Screen Not Working?

When your android touch screen has stopped working, in most cases it means that it has frozen. So you can touch it at any point, and it will not respond.

The solution for this is relatively easy.

  • First, you have to put all your fingers on the screen and hold it for a couple of seconds.
  • Then, the screen will come to the re-calibration mode, and it will reset.
  • When it does, you will see on the screen the information, press the “Okay” button, and it will be back to normal.

Why Car Radio Screen Went Black?

Screens in the car radios can randomly go black after connecting additional equipment like the reverse camera or reinstalling the software.

If the screen is not mechanically damaged and is working fine but suddenly lost its screen, the simplest way to fix it is to press the reset button and hold in depending on the radio for between 5 and 10 seconds.

After that, most screens come back to normal functioning.

If the display panel on the car stereo receiver is dim or does not light, the connectors may need to be cleaned, or a mode setting needs to be adjusted.

Another problem can occur when the radio works but it has internal screen damage. To fix this, you have to either disassemble the radio, remove the screen, measure the electrical resistance on all connections, or give the radio to the professional.

Why Is My Radio Screen Dim?

The dimmer setting allows dimming the display and buttons at night, so it does not have to be as bright as during the day.

The car radio dimmer can be set manually, synchronized to the clock, or activated with your car lights, and most dimmed screens problems are related to the last option when the radio has to be connected to the car lights.

If the display is too dim with the brightness set to the highest level, the dimmer could be activated. Your radio may be equipped with a separate brightness setting for when the dimmer mode is activated.

This can also happen if the car sends an incorrect signal to the radio indicating that the car lights are on and the display should be dimmed.

To solve this problem, you should manually switch the dimmer off or set the dimmed brightness to the maximum level.

If, after changing the settings on your radio, the display is still too dim or too bright, the radio may be faulty, and you may need to contact the repair service of the radio manufacturer.

Conclusion

It’s all good and well that nowadays you can purchase the most fantastic car radio with a superb display that can achieve incredible things.

However, compared to older, more robust car stereos, the risk of something getting damaged or not working correctly is a real issue and one you will have to face if you are not willing to take it to an automotive repair shop.

Furthermore, there are quite a few factors that could be at the root of this problem. However, most of them are not severe, and they can be rectified without the need to take your car in so your radio can be repaired.

I have covered these issues, and they include a faulty illumination wire, an incorrect dimming mode or setting, and a blown fuse.

The last thing to note is that if you have gone through all the steps I have provided, and your car radio display is still not working, you will most likely have to take it to a professional service to figure out what the problem is.

Martin

Welcome to ImproveCarAudio! I am Martin, and I love to write about everything related to car sound systems. I strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about car audio through extensive research, as well as my experience with car audio installations.

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